What better way to jazz up left overs than to encase them in slightly crispy, slightly chewy, subtly sweet fluffy pillows. Empanadas are traditionally bread or pastry stuffed with meat/cheese/veges and either baked or deep-fried. These little guys are pan-fried like pancakes, except instead of the often nerve-wracking task of flipping them in the pan, you only need to fry them on one side until they’re just cooked.
Then onto the uncooked side, spoon some meat/veges/cheese/whatever leftovers you need to use up, fold them over to seal them then bake them in the oven for half an hour. The batter only has 3 ingredients, and all you need to prepare it is a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. I have a little 15cm fry pan which is the perfect size for these, but the batter’s quite thick so you make 2 or 3 at a time in a larger pan.
The key to make sure these remain crispy is to ensure your leftovers are quite dry so the filling holds together – e.g. a cooked mince dish like bolognaise works great, but a soupy stew would make them end up soggy. The almond meal and coconut milk make them slightly sweet, so these would work with a sweet filling too like stewed fruit – so long as most of the liquid was cooked off.
Makes 6-8 empanadas
- 1/2 cup almond meal / almond flour (both work)
- 1/2 cup arrowroot flour (tapioca flour)
- 1 cup (full fat) coconut milk/cream*
- extra virgin olive/coconut oil/butter/ghee for pan-frying
- Approx. a cup of leftovers (like bolognaise, dry curry, baked veges, etc.)
- 1 egg, beaten (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180C and prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a mixing bowl, add almond meal/flour, arrowroot flour and coconut milk/cream.
- Stir well until all combined and there are no lumps in the batter.
- Add a small amount of oil/butter/ghee to cover the bottom of your fry pan, and heat on stove to medium.
- Spoon/ladle mixture into pan and let the batter cook undisturbed for a minute or 2, until the bottom forms a soft crust – i.e. is firm enough to move when you give the pan a little shake. Do not flip over.
- Carefully slide the pancake (crust down) straight onto the baking tray.
- Spoon a heaped tablespoon of your leftover mixture onto the middle of the (uncooked side of the) pancake and fold the pancake over to seal the edges (refer to the picture above).
- Repeat steps 5-7 until you have used all your batter and all your empanadas are ready to bake on the baking tray (refer to picture above).
- Brush each top with beaten egg-wash mixture (optional).
- Place in oven for 30 minutes so the leftovers mix is heated through, and the empanada crusts are crispy.
*Tip: When buying coconut milk/cream, to ensure you buy the best quality, check the ingredients and choose the product that has the highest percentage of coconut (the rest is just water). My pick is AYAM which you can usually find in most super markets (82% coconut in the milk, and 100% coconut in the cream).
The ‘light’ version of coconut milk/cream replaces some of the good coconut fat with water (and some other unnecessary ingredients) and will tend to make your dishes a little bit more watery.